The Promised Neverland is an anime series based on a Japenese manga written by Kaiu Shira and was serialized by Weekly Shōnen Jump (Best-selling manga magazine) in 2016. In February 2020, the Anime received the “best fantasy” award at CrunchyRoll Anime awards and has also featured in Crunchy Roll’s top 100 Animes of 2010s list.
The Promised Neverland Anime release date: 18th December 2019
Genre: Dark fantasy/ Sci-fi
Number of episodes: 12
Being a newbie anime fan this series moved me with its hidden symbolism, brilliant characters and of course the most complex villain ever. The series begins in an orphanage wherein kids of ages up to 11 reside and live a happy life with their caretaker Isabella, whom they call and consider their “mom”. All the kids in the anime look very cute, charming, kind and adorable, we can instantly connect with them.
Right off the bat, we are introduced to the three main protagonists Norman, Emma and Ray (shown respectively in the above picture), the oldest and the most intelligent kids in the orphanage. While Norman and Ray were introverts. Emma was depicted as an outgoing, loving and a lively character. She reminded me of Misa Misa from the Anime Death Note (first Anime I watched). The three main characters then learn a dark secret about their orphanage which completely changes their life. The show essentially revolves around how they deal with their challenges after learning about this secret.
The Promised Neverland is one of the best Anime to watch. You can watch this Anime in Japanese with English subtitles or the dub version. It is an anime for kids and adults.
LIST OF CONTENTS:
If you haven’t watched the series yet and want to watch it later. I suggest you stop reading the below section as it is filled with spoilers!
I am going to discuss what makes The Promised Neverland anime so interesting and special.
Plot Twist/Gripping Storyline:
When I started watching the show the first thought I got was why is everything in this show so perfect and how are all the characters are so nice. But when all the kids including Emma, Ray and Norman, play tag and wonder why no one who was taken in by a foster family from the orphanage has not written any letters for them. It was a clear sign that the kids who leave the orphanage are not alive.
When Isabella takes Conny, a 6-year-old, towards the main gate, she hums a tune and does not talk to Conny at all. That made me sure that Conny and all the other orphanage kids get killed.
The twist is finally revealed at the end of the episode when Emma finds that Conny left her favourite toy behind. Ray suggests that Emma should go to the gate and give the toy to Conny before it was too late. Norman and Emma both rush to the gate and find Conny’s dead body inside a truck. (That was so heartbreaking to watch). Two of them freak out but hide when they spot some monsters. Isabella was essentially raising these kids in one of many human flesh farms. The monsters fed on human flesh ( they preferred ages 6 and 12 for getting the best quality meat) and especially the brain. The caretakers had to make sure they raise the kids to be well-nourished both physically and mentally. I bet most of the viewers couldn’t have guessed this twist exactly as it is. It is also indicated that Emma, Norman and Ray were the top-grade meat for these monsters because their brains were the most developed (that’s gross) and they were going to turn 12.
The Well-Written Villain:
Isabella or “mom” is a very complex villain. She is the caretaker of the orphanage and is loved by all the kids. When Emma and Norman find out about the reality of their orphanage, it is not easy for them to believe that their “mom” could be doing something so sinister.
Isabella intentionally reveals that she can track all the kids using a device, giving Emma and Norman a clue that trackers were implanted in every kid’s body. Through this action, she wanted to check if Emma and Norman would break their trackers as then she can confirm her suspicions further-more. Isabella figures out that Emma and Norman knew the secret, she still controls them by making Ray spy on them in exchange for the things he wanted.
She brings another adult, Sister Krone, into the picture just so that she has some backing. She is self-sufficient, cunning and focused on her own survival.
There was a scene where it was depicted that Ray is Isabella’s son. When Ray asks her “why she gave birth to him,” she said, “to survive”. The viewers cannot completely hate her once we learn about her back story.
She makes sure Emma, Norman and Ray’s plan to escape fails. She breaks Emma’s leg with no remorse to hinder her escape plans and acts like she cares about Emma in front of the other kids. Isabella asks Emma to give up on her plan to escape and even offers that she could recommend Emma to become a “mom” in the future.
At the end, when Emma manages to win, it is both satisfying and sad to watch Isabella fail as it is clear she will be punished by the monsters.
While it is clear from the start that this is Emma’s story, she is the protagonist and the centre. Norman and Ray are equally important and the actual masterminds behind their main escape plan.
When these characters interact, Ray seems like a downer. While Emma and Norman were cheerful.
Emma has high emotional intelligence and comes up with the idea of training the little kids for the escape plan by playing tag. She did not want to leave anyone behind, while Norman and Ray didn’t want to take everyone. She believes in everyone and in the end, reveals the secret to all little kids as well. Her faith makes people around her confident. She is clever as she acts like she gave up but was always talking to and training the other kids so that they have a fool-proof escape plan in the end
The reason behind Ray’s glum nature was that he always knew that they were living on a farm and were nothing but food for monsters. Ray did not experience infantile amnesia, he remembered that Isabella was his mom and identified her true intentions. He helps her to collect items or essentially electric gadgets to build a device which could break that trackers implanted in them. His end plan, however, was very self-destructive. He wanted to set the orphanage on fire to distract Isabella while Emma escaped away with others and himself too just because he did not want to be meat for monsters. (Thank god Emma didn’t let this happen).
Norman is a true realist. At first, he knew it was difficult to escape from the orphanage with everyone. However, he decides to help everyone escape for it made Emma happy. He balances Ray and Emma’s ideas and comes up with a perfect escape plan. He even gets ready to sacrifice himself. He leaves the orphanage with Isabella though Emma and Ray try to help him escape alone.
Before leaving the orphanage, Norman gives key information to Emma regarding the orphanage through a letter. The back wall they planned to escape from had a cliff behind it and there was a bridge on one corner where the farm headquarters were located. He figures out that there were other farms entrapped inside a hexagon shape.
Norman tells Emma not to escape from the bridge as the monsters can catch on to them. He figures out that leaving kids 4 and below behind will cause no harm. Emma could always come back after 2 years to help them escape. He knew that Ray was going to set himself on fire way before and asks Emma to save him.
In the series, Norman’s death is not shown, maybe he is alive and we will see him in again in season 2.
The Great Escape:
After Norman is taken from the orphanage. Ray and Emma both act like they have given up on their escape plan. Isabella continues to watch them closely.
Emma looks less cheerful and always tired the little kids keep talking to her. Ray completely isolated himself. He almost looks depressed and suicidal without Norman around.
In the end, it is made clear that both continued to plan their escape. Emma trained the kids above ages 4 while Ray decided to set himself and the orphanage on fire. Emma helps everyone escape through the forest by zip-lining over the cliff (as shown in the above layout picture), just as Norman suggested. They make ropes out of bed linens and save food and supplies for everyone.
The last episode completely left me in shock. I was not expecting Emma would be come up with such creative ideas to save everyone.
- Emma is an empath and she depicts idealistic thinking. While Norman is a representation of realistic thinkers. Ray represents a pessimistic thinker who expects the worst from everyone and every situation.
- The orphanage is a symbol of family values and how after children leave home, they face the harsh outside world. (In this anime actual monsters/cannibals eww!) Isabella depicts the notion of ‘survival of the fittest.’
- Isabella always left the kid’s toy’s behind the orphanage when she takes them out of there. This indicates the loss of humanity. She essentially leaves her humanity behind. The kid whose toy is left behind just becomes a commodity.
- When Isabella fails she finally opens her hair, letting her need for survival go.
- Emma, Norman and Ray find secret messages from other humans in the library, that symbolises hope.
In conclusion, the promised Neverland is a culmination of great protagonists, supporting characters and a very complex villain. Be it the plot, the conflicts or the climax, this is how any script should be written to catch the attention of the viewers and to bind them with the series.